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Harley-Davidson building a V4? - This would be big!


by Marc Cantin ,

Yes, you are reading this right - that bastion of slow revving, air cooled, big-inch V-Twin is working on a 1300 to 1600cc four cylinder engine, and a water cooled one at that!

According to credible European sources, The Motor Company has set interesting specs for a modern V4 engine that is presently in development. The rumour mill tells us that cylinder banks are set at 72o, halfway between the bulkier but smooth running 90o setting and the more elegant 45o opening used on the current Harley Twin Cam and Evo engines. In fact, each crankshaft throw on the rumoured engine is split 18o either side of the throw centerline, so that the resulting piston configuration emulates a 90o engine. Makes you wonder if they are not creating a double V-Twin which could replicate the iconic Harley sound. A balance shaft will take care of residual vibrations.

Harley has used Porsche and Rotax to develop new engines in the past, which lends some credence to the rumours, while a Harley spokesman gave me the standard "We do not comment on future products" response. We are left to wonder where such an engine would be used, and if it could replace the current TC motor, a "Real Harley" engine according to lovers of the brand, with air cooling, the classic patat-patat sound and no unsightly radiator.

Harley officials, speaking at new product Press Days in mid 2008, indicated that the current TC generation engine will meet the next generation (2010-11) US and European emission and noise standards, a feat on an older, air cooled engine. Things remain unclear on the engine side after 2010, and the new V4 engine may be the one to step in at that time, a clean break with the beloved look and sound of the old engine. With up to 170hp, the engine could certainly replace the TC, be part of a new high performance family of Harleys, or turn out to be just smoke.

Stay tuned for developments

Photo Credit : Philippe Champoux